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With Gratitude: A Five-Year Reflection of SPS and Dean Wingard

by Ram Vittal, Chair, Board of Overseers 

Several years ago, Dean Jason Wingard asked me to Chair the inaugural Board of Overseers at the Columbia University School of Professional Studies (SPS).  I had interacted with Jason while he was at Wharton and overlapped briefly when he joined Goldman Sachs. Through all my interactions I already appreciated his passion for driving change and respected his commitment to purposely creating impact.  He impressed upon me, with a compelling strategy and conviction of purpose, that SPS was the future of education and work.  As the fourth Dean in the school’s history, his call to action was to boldly catalyze an educational revolution.  It has been my honor to support the realization of Dean Wingard’s vision and represent the dynamic best interests of the global school community.

As Dean Wingard prepares to step down from his role, culminating a successful era of transformative leadership, our Board reviewed and discussed his lasting influence on the organization.  Specifically, goals were assessed, and expectations exceeded, in three key areas: Growth, Quality, and Innovation.  In these three areas, I will reflect, on behalf of the board, on the achievements of SPS during his term as Dean and share expectations for the school going forward.  

Growth 

In a recent note to the Columbia University community, President Lee Bollinger noted, “Jason's five-year tenure as Dean represents a pivotal period of growth and program development.”  To add specificity to President Bollinger’s praise, several specific data points may be highlighted as extraordinary.  Between Fiscal Year 2015 and Fiscal Year 2019, the following areas significantly increased:

School growth

Quality 

Given that the school has experienced phenomenal growth, we are particularly proud, as a Board, that SPS has exceeded year-over-year excellence metrics in the three core areas of academic measure:

SPS Quality Graphs

Innovation

Innovation is a term often overused in professional settings; however, at SPS, it is a vital and integral component of the School’s value proposition.  As a Board, we have focused considerable time and focus supporting Dean Wingard’s vision and commitment to creating new initiatives that directly benefit the mission of the School and enhance the experience for students and faculty alike.

Highlighted below are the most significant areas of innovation, and related initiatives, demonstrated in the last five years:

This has been a very special five years.  On behalf of the Board of Overseers, I would like to thank Dean Jason Wingard for his stellar leadership, relentless pursuit of excellence, and dedicated commitment to SPS.  We will truly miss working with Jason but have been inspired and motivated by what we have accomplished together. 

Moving forward, we are excited to see what is next for SPS. I feel confident that Dean Wingard’s legacy will continue to thrive; the work we have started is, indeed, leading the way for the future of work and the future of education.